Strength: Debut Albums and Johnny

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Strength
They are taking the casket away to the burial site. It is made of a dark maple wood with an arrangement of white roses on top. The preacher says only family can come. So the son stands up and follows the casket to the burial site. He is wearing a gray shirt with a black coat and black pants. He doesn't seem to be shaken up about the funeral. He is quiet and stays to himself. Once they reach the burial site he stands next to the casket as they begin to lower it. He just stares and begins to think about the memory that caused this.

Johnny was sitting at the kitchen table watching his mother Anita, cleaning the dishes. She was wearing her tired blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up, beat up denims, and her hair in a low pony-tail. Anita’s favorite thing was to do the dishes. She always sang to herself while her blue eyes traveled out the window through the woods. She would think things of leaving and starting over. She never wanted Johnny to see herself that way but he did. He saw her sadness. Many times she would stare at the little Eiffel Tower statue that was on the window sill or look at her and her husband, Jacks', wedding photo above the fireplace. The pictured showed a much younger, and happier Anita.

The house was quiet. And Johnny liked moments like these. Moments that showed how cozy and peaceful their 700 square foot home could be instead of the tumble-down house it really was. It had a kitchen/den, two bedrooms, and a bath. Their family spent most of the time in the kitchen. It was painted a pale yellow, had a wooden table with three chairs, and had a window over the sink. It connected to a hallway which connected to the two rooms. All the rooms were small but the size didn’t really bother him, it was the only place he had known for his ten years. The house was light green with white shutters on the outside. The paint had faded so much that the home almost blended into the woods.

Johnny didn’t have many neighbors but he had an imagination that was as vibrant and wild as the Salmon River a few miles away. He would sneak there sometimes when his mother would be sleeping and his father was at work. One day as the sun was rising over the river he began a story of a boy traveling through the woods and ending up in a far away land. It was a much peaceful, newer, land than the one he knew. He became friends with them and they allowed him to go back and bring one person back to live with them. He brought his mother.

Anita finished the dishes and turned around to look at Johnny.  “Alright young man, it's time for bed. Your father will be home soon.”
“Could you read me a story before bed?”
“Sweetie, your father is almost home and you need to be in bed.”
“Mama, please?” said Johnny.
She looked at him; his big blue eyes, half covered by his unkempt hair, always won. They were her weakness. He was such a kind boy whose eyes always saw good, no matter the evil in front of him.
“Okay” she said, “but it's going to be a short one.”
She told him a story of a blue eyed, brown haired boy who travels to a distant land to save a girl who is in trouble. In the story the boy had to learn that bravery isn’t just about doing what is right but also being able to sacrifice your feelings to do the right thing. As she neared the end of the story she heard her husband’s truck pull up. She hurriedly got to her feet and looked out the window. Her heart started to beat faster and there was a little bit of perspiration right above her brow. Johnny sat up and peered over her shoulder. They both looked and saw him and his gun fall out of their blue Ford F-150. Her husband picked up his gun and staggered towards the house. Anita turned around and tucked Johnny in. As she pulled away Johnny grabbed her hand, and in a very small but strong voice Johnny said, “Mama... one day I’ll save you. I promise.” Anita stared.

The car door slamming knocked Anita out of her trance. She walked out of Johnny’s room, wiped the few...
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